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27 Sep 2023

Commodities in Focus Weekly: An introduction to TradeTrust and the laws governing electronic bills of lading

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The digitalisation of global trade has been underway for years, including the development and use of electronic versions of paper trade documents, such as electronic bills of lading (eBLs) and eBL platforms. However, their wider uptake has been held back in part due to the lack of legal recognition as being equivalent to their paper counterparts, as well as legal and technical interoperability between the eBL platforms.

Cue TradeTrust, a free-to-use, open source, digital framework and solution developed by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which enables the use of bespoke eBLs and other electronic trade documents across different digital platforms.

This article provides an in-depth analysis of the legal and practical features of the TradeTrust framework and 'TradeTrust-enabled eBLs' (TT eBLs), including:

  • a user-friendly analysis of the key technical features of TradeTrust which allow TT eBLs to achieve 'technical interoperability'; and
  • an overview of how TT eBLs comply with the legal requirements for eBLs under the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) and Singapore, English and US law ('legal interoperability'). These laws, including Singapore's Electronic Transactions Act 2010 and the long-awaited UK Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023 which took effect on 20 September 2023, plug an important gap in the legal landscape: the legal recognition of electronic versions of negotiable trade documents (including eBLs) as equivalent to their paper counterparts.

Please click here to read the article in full and learn more about TradeTrust and its potential use in global trade. 

Stephenson Harwood (in alliance with Virtus Law LLP) has worked closely with IMDA, with the assistance of the US law firm BlankRome, on this article.

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Daryll Ng

Daryll Ng
Singapore office managing partner

T:  +65 6835 8656 M:  Email Daryll | Vcard Office:  Singapore